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Home>Collection & Louvre Palace>Curatorial Departments>Seated Man with Draperies, Head Resting on Left Hand

Work Seated Man with Draperies, Head Resting on Left Hand

Department of Prints and Drawings: 14th-15th centuries

Homme drapé assis, la tête appuyée sur la main gauche

Prints and Drawings
14th-15th centuries

Author(s):
Mancini Federica

Filippino Lippi was one of the most individual characters in fifteenth-century Florentine art. His mastery of pictorial representation earned him such fame that he was commissioned to complete Masaccio's fresco cycle in the Brancacci Chapel in Florence. This drawing, executed in the unforgiving metal-point technique frequently used by Florentine artists of the period, testifies to Lippi's extraordinary technical skill. His sensitive talent imbues the figure with a rare emotional intensity.

A brilliant contrast

The corners of the sheet have been cut, giving it an octagonal form and enhancing the scale of the seated figure. The model sits with his head resting on his left arm. His billowing robe covers both the seat and the support upon which he is leaning. The rich and ample drapery is executed in rapid strokes, intensified in the darker areas. The white highlights create a sense of luminosity. The composition is lit from the left, as may be seen from the play of light and shadow on the folds of drapery, the face and the right hand. The drawing and highlights contrast with the gray-blue tone of the treated paper to create an enhanced impression of color.

The heir to Masaccio

Filippino Lippi was known for his highly individual character and work. He was nevertheless strongly influenced by his father, Filippo Lippi, and by his teacher, Sandro Botticelli. Filippino's familiarity with his father's style and subject-matter is evident here: this drawing was attributed to Filippo at the time of its purchase by the Louvre. The sheet is dated to the early 1480s on the basis of its stylistic similarity to other contemporary studies of isolated figures (Paris, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts and drawings in the Uffizi, Florence). The date is confirmed by the fact that Filippino was commissioned in 1484 to complete the fresco cycle begun by Masolino and Masaccio for the Brancacci Chapel in the Florentine church of Santa Maria del Carmine. A seated figure in the episodes depicting the Life of St Peter, to which Filippino made additions, may have inspired the Louvre study.

A man at rest

The judicious application of white highlights shows a rare graphic skill; a freer, more expressive handling is seen on the verso of the sheet, which features a robed male figure with a raised arm. Here, the metal-point strokes and white highlights are more spontaneous and less precise. This study testifies to Lippi's remarkable technique, and to his interest in this type of figure: the pose is reworked in a number of other studies. The Louvre's collection of prints and drawings features two further examples (recto and verso of the same sheet: RF 432r and v).

Bibliography

Berenson Bernard, I Disegni dei pittori fiorentini, Milano, 1961, vol. II-III.
Bacou Roseline, notice 15, in Dessins du Louvre, Ecole Italienne, Paris , Éditions Flammarion, 1968.
Shoemaker Innis H., Filippino Lippi as a Draughtsman, New York, Ph. D. Dissertation, Columbia University, 1975.
Vaccari G. M., notice 17, in Maestri toscani del quattrocento, Biblioteca dei Disegni, vol. XVIII, Firenze, 1976.
Goldner George R., notice 23, in The Drawings of Filippino Lippi and his circle, New York, The Metropolitan museum of art, 1997, p.142.

Technical description

  • Bernat MARTORELL (active in Barcelona, documented from 1427 - Barcelona, 1452)

    The Beheading of Saint George

    c. 1435

  • Metal-point (silver?) heightened with white on treated gray-brown paper, truncated corners

    H. 1.07 m; W. 0.53 m

  • Gift of the Société des Amis du Louvre, 1904

  • Prints and Drawings

    Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.

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